The Gripes of Kath (sorry Steinbeck)

by gillis

The universe has a way of sending us the lessons we need to learn at just the right time, doesn’t it? My husband and I were nearly at the point of not speaking to one another last week as we, once again, realized how very differently we manage stress. We are packing all of our fabulous worldly goods and storing them into metal boxes that have been dropped into our driveway for this very purpose. These boxes will be taken away while we move into a rental home for a month or so before joyously rejoining us at our new house.

My style of packing is to make lists of items and group like things together so that when we (by which I mean, of course, I) unpack things, rooms will be easier to unpack and organize. I suppose my packing could be seen as “relational” – putting things that serve a function near other things that serve a similar function or at least reside in the same room of a house. My husband packs things together that fit spatially without regard to function. Picture the insertion of A into B wherein A is nightstand and B is a Crockpot. I suppose his packing could be seen as “physical” – tab A fits into slot B regardless of their function. You see my point? While I may not have perfect physical fits, I will be able to find things later in my little corner of the pod because of their compatibility, while his areas will have less space wasted. I’d like to think that my areas will be more harmonious while in storage, that the items will be happier, but I cannot deny that his sections may experience enough physical attraction to make it through the month (or so) without shifting too far out of alignment to cause rifts, tears, or cracks…we shall see.

In any case, I am dealing with this move the same way I deal with most stress – eating and complaining. I’m telling everyone I know, and several strangers a day, about our move. I am explaining how difficult it is, how concerned I am about the impact this will have on the kids, etc. and I am consuming carbohydrates at an alarming rate. My husband, on the other hand, is not eating much at all but obsessively measuring things and inexplicably showering much less frequently. When asked about this, he’s made it clear that if he is not working and is spending the day packing, he doesn’t especially feel the need to groom before attending a softball game.

The icing on the cake is that my car has chosen this time to drop a valve or two leaving our family to travel Joad-like up and down the length of our county together in my husband’s car twice a day.  I no longer have the freedom to come and go on my own but must wait to be driven places because my husband’s workplace is the endpoint on the commute (its distance from our present home is the very reason we are moving – to cut down on this commute). Standing outside of my school waiting to be picked up with the kids who stay after school has not been without its pleasures.  For instance, I had no idea the kids threw rocks at the staff cars parked out front, and apparently they had no idea that a car-owning staff member would question this practice. I’ve also “helped” a few of these kids to “remember” their homework. In front of their peers. Who says teaching at the end of the school year isn’t fun?

In any case, what I miss most in my car is listening to the radio or a CD as I barrel down Route 7 with the windows open. I like to sing very loudly and encourage my son (usually my only traveling companion) to pump his fist and shout “rock and roll” in his toddler-esque voice from time to time. Instead I am listening to Top 40 per our daughter’s request and being kicked in the back continually by the youngster in the car seat behind me. The last straw came when my husband turned NPR off, which is the only thing we both seemed to enjoy, because he was “sick of hearing about Mitt Romney, when will they stop talking about Mitt Romney?” I think we’ll probably either hear very little about Romney or quite a bit more after November, but I’m not mentioning this theory to my husband. The whole thing has my every nerve jangled since I have no alone time during this stressful end-of-school-year/pack-the-house-time and I feel guilty each time I go out for an hour long power walk (or as it like to think of it, “restrain the power of the dark side” walk). It’s unclear how long it will take to get my car back, but it’s very clear that we need to trade it in ASAP because there are other things looming on the horizon which will cost another 4 digits of cashy-lala in the near future. When I began to lament about this verbally, starting with how stressful I find the family commute, my husband put his arm around me, pulled me in close and said, “I think it’s a lot of fun for us to start our day together like this, don’t you?” without a trace of irony in his voice. Thanks universe. I needed that.